Quinoa, a Rice Alternative

I just met a new grain.

Quinoa.

It’s this weird food you find in the health food area of your grocery store.  When you open the box, you find these weird little balls.

Turns out, it’s actually not a grain at all.  Something about grass.  It’s actually classed with beets and swiss chard.  Whatever that means.

When you look online, you see all these big words about what makes quinoa such a super food.  Words like lysine and isoleucine and phytonutrients.  It made my brain hurt, just a little bit.  You can find all that technical info here, if you care to.

Vegans and vegetarians and gluten-phobes rave about how healthy it is.

But what no one says is how versatile and tasty it is, not to mention, it’s easy to make!

Any time you would use rice (particularly white rice, since that’s just bad for you.) you can substitute quinoa.  It only takes about 10 minutes to make and you end up with fluffy perfect quinoa.  Even I didn’t manage to screw it up.

Like rice, it doesn’t have a very distinctive flavor of it’s own, which makes it perfect for just about anything.  It is a hidden protein, which means nice and filling, but still packed with nutrients which is good for little bellies.

As far as texture, I really enjoyed it.  Not firm, but not slimy or porridgey.  The grains are distinct, like rice, without being squishy.  I’m a real texture nut, there are plenty of things I won’t eat simply because of the texture.  (Evil mushrooms!)

I think it would be less likely to turn into confetti as well, which is always a good thing in my house.

A fall serving suggestion:

Cook up some acorn squash halves, make your quinoa (it’s easy, just 2:1 water to rinsed quinoa, simmer covered for 15 minutes), then toss your quinoa with some cranberries and cottage cheese or goat cheese.  Half a squash is more than enough for one person, since the quinoa is seriously filling.

Or toss it with some roasted fall veggies for a tasty treat as a side dish.

It’s good stuff.

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